The Brooklyn Nets tipped off their 2022-23 NBA season on Wednesday, October 19, and if you watched the game, one thing was clear. They need a true big man. Nic Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe were the two big men that played the most minutes for the Nets, and while they weren’t terrible, the Nets were outrebounded 61-39 and had no answer for Zion Williamson, which to their credit, who does? But it was clear for a team that will see a lot of Joel Embiied and other strong big men, they need to answer their question at center and have someone to play minutes down the stretch for them. They were reportedly interested in adding a veteran center, but Nets general manager Sean Marks told the media that Claxton and Sharpe will be given time to prove themselves before that.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Nic and Day’Ron out there,” Marks said. “And see what they can do. They put in the time on the court with our coaching staff this summer and really put in long hours. If you noticed, their bodies have changed and matured. … At the end of the day, I’m excited to give Nic and Day’Ron a shot out there and see how they perform.”
Eastern Conference Executive Names Possible Nets Targets
While their plan may be to roll with Claxton, Sharpe, and Ben Simmons, that may be just in the short term. One Eastern Conference Executive told Heavy Sports NBA Insider Sean Deveney four potential big guys he could see the Nets targeting come January.
“They’re small. The thing about being in the East is that you’re looking at Joel Embiid and if you have to go up against him with Nic Claxton and Markieff Morris, that is not enough. I think they know that. They gave Claxton a new contract but they’re not sold on him, so this year is a trial run. They can trade him if they feel they need to, he has value. But he’s the first option there. They can play small throughout the regular season but you can’t pay Ben Simmons at center in the playoffs, too many coaches will pick that apart in a series.
The thing is, they will have options. There are big guys out there you can plug in for 20 minutes and let them be physical, and there will probably be more at the trade deadline. Hassan Whiteside is out there. Derrick Favors now, he is out there. (DeMarcus) Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein — you can get a big body in there if you need to. But you probably won’t see them make a move until January on that,” the executive told Heavy.
Are These Good Fits?
As far as how these big men would fit is still a question. Hassan Whiteside has always filled a stat sheet and looks good on the box score but doesn’t have a major impact on games, and his blocked shot stats suggest he is a better defender than he actually is. Dwight Howard has been named, but he doesn’t feel like a great fit on this Nets team. DeMarcus Cousins had a pretty solid year in Denver last year, and it is surprising that he isn’t on a team right now. He averaged 8.9 points and 5.5 rebounds a game for the Nuggets, and it could be interesting to see him give the Nets 15-20 minutes a game. Willie Cauley-Stein is still relatively young, and is also interesting if they could find some untapped upside to him.